What trail did you descend from Baxter? Did you get a chance to go across knife edge?
Descended on the Saddle Trail. A bit difficult, but easier than the AT going down. HELL NAH to the knife edge!!! It was too windy/cold/rainy to try it on my summit day, but I’m a big baby anyway. Don’t think I could do it :]
How'd all your gear hold up? Would you have changed anything? Started off with something different?
My gear held up so well! The only thing I had to replace on the trail were my shoes, which is normal. I 100% support GoLite (My shorts, pack, down jacket, base layers, hat, gloves came from here) and Columbia (My one and only hiking shirt for the trail came from here). Had a Mountain Hardwear sleeping bag too - that thing has survived two thru hikes now and is still in great shape (friend took it in 2012). I was pretty lucky with gear, tbh.
If I did it over, I think I would have used a tent. I used a tarp/tyvek to line the ground and it worked fine, but I think a tent would have been better and maaaybe worth the extra weight. I did enjoy how light my pack was though.
How was the bathroom situation on the trail? Were there time you had to just find a bouncing birch, as it were, or were there outhouses? Did you have to bring your own TP etc?
Lots of privies on the trail. (Almost) Every shelter has a privy. Yep, I brought TP. Was able to make it to a privy most of the time. If not, try to move 200 feet from trail/water source and dig a hole with your trekking pole about 6 inches deep.
I know its late after your AMA but I was wondering, how important is it to find someone to start with? Like, I am going to hike the AT once I graduate in the winter of 2016, but I don't have a trail buddy haha none of my friends are as campy as me. So would it be harder for me?
I started with a pal, but we split in the Smokies. I hiked with people I met on the trail for the remainder. Lots of people start solo! You make friends. That was one of the best parts for me.
Do you feel like hiking the AT has changed your life completely? Do you look at things differently now?
Hmm, maybe? A lot of people go out there looking for that ~life-changing experience. A lot of people find it! I just had a good time. I suppose I do appreciate things a lot more now. Currently sitting in a warm, cozy bed with a dog and IT’S SO WONDERFUL. Showers are also really great now.